News of the Week
Agenda Texas: Behind the Scenes of the Budget Debate
The Texas House began its debate on a $193 billion budget bill Thursday morning. And as lead budget writer Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, laid out the bill, he reminded lawmakers of the shaky economic ground the state was on just two years ago, when they had to tackle a $27 billion revenue shortfall.
House OKs Budget, Nixes Vouchers, Medicaid Expansion
After roughly 12 hours of debate that included a crushing defeat of school vouchers, a serious setback for Medicaid expansion and far fewer floor fights than expected, the Texas House passed a $193.8 billion budget Thursday on a 135-12 vote.
In Bipartisan Truce, House Members Pulling Amendments
While the Texas House began working through 267 amendments on the proposed budget Thursday morning, Democratic and Republican House members confirmed that potentially divisive amendments related to funding for women’s health are being withdrawn as part of a bipartisan truce.
A Voucher Showdown During House Budget Debate
An amendment from state Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Corpus Christi, that would ban the use of public dollars for private schools, passed 103-43 with bipartisan support.
House Freshmen Launch Coordinated Strike on Budget
As the Texas House prepares to debate the state budget Thursday, a group of Republican freshman members are planning to use the amendment process to try to drain funding from dozens of state programs.
Lawmakers Examine High-Stakes Testing in Lower Grades
When it comes to high-stakes testing, Texas lawmakers have so far focused most of their attention on high school students. But as more than 3 million students across the state begin to take standardized exams this week, some members of the Legislature are examining the plight of younger test-takers.
HAMMOND: Texas poised to go backward on education standards
A letter sent to lawmakers from the National Council of La Raza and the Education Trust begged them not to weaken standards, saying that Texas’ economy needs high-level workers to stay strong. It also points out that the changes set forth in HB5 will hurt low-income and minority students.
Williams Certifies Ban on Social Promotion
Fifth and eighth graders in the midst of taking their first round of state standardized exams now know that they must pass those tests to move on to the next grade.
Retired-Teachers Group Not Endorsing Budget Amendments
About a dozen House freshmen have filed more than three dozen amendments that would defund various state programs and shift the money to TRS-Care, the Teacher Retirement System’s retiree group health insurance plan.
UT Regent Hall Failed to Disclose Lawsuits
University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall Jr., who has pressured UT-Austin to be more transparent and accountable, is coming under fire for failing to disclose a long history of courtroom battles before he was appointed to the board.
Legislative, State Action Could Impact STAAR Testing
Texas schools will not find out their 2013 state ratings until August, but already a major legislative bill under consideration and the anticipated release of new rules that dictate how the state will calculate and evaluate the test results could have a major impact on the accountability system for Texas schools.
Texas End-of-Course Exams Targeted for Rollback by Lawmakers
An ambitious set of high school graduation requirements for Texas would be dramatically overhauled under legislation to be considered today by the state’s House of Representatives, including lowering from 15 to five the number of end-of-course exams most students must pass. The state tests for Algebra II, chemistry, physics, and English III, to name a few, could be skipped if the plan becomes law.
Texas seeks waiver from education law
“Currently, school districts across Texas are forced to operate within two, often conflicting, accountability and intervention systems while taking valuable resources and time away from focusing on improving student achievement,” TEA Commissioner Michael Williams said in a statement. “The federal requirements and guidelines … have become an obsolete system that does not adequately reflect the performance of the state’s schools.”
Back to basics: Vouchers, anyone?
Smack in the middle of the budget debate, an amendment by Robstown Democratic Rep. Abel Herrero has sparked an argument between him and a smattering of Republicans (including a handful of freshmen) over the merits of school vouchers.
House votes against vouchers
The amendment by Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, says money appropriated to the Texas Education Agency may not be used for school vouchers or scholarships that are funded by entities that then get tax credits.
Texas House overwhelmingly approves $93B budget
A marathon debate over a new two-year, $93.5 billion state spending plan ended late Thursday with overwhelming passage in the Texas House, where Republicans and Democrats brokered deals to diffuse volatile ideological battles and trumpeted a new air of bipartisanship afterward.
Texas Senate passes special education cameras bill
The Texas Senate has passed a bill requiring schools to place video cameras in special education classrooms to help protect students from abusive teachers.
Plainview ISD to close 2 campuses after enrollment decline, Cargill closing
Two months after the Cargill beef processing plant closed, the Plainview Independent School District announced it will close two of its four single-grade campuses, anticipating a steep decline in enrollment.
Who Actually Needs Alegbra II In Texas And Does It Matter?
A bill that would change high school graduation requirements is working its way through the Texas Legislature. One of the most controversial changes involves algebra. It would no longer be required for a basic high school diploma.
It’s time to drop kick educational testing
Our children do not need to be pulled away from their routine such as PE in one school district nor do the parents need to feel angst about how their children are doing on a test. We need assessments in school systems, but we need something that doesn’t disrupt a typical student’s academic life either as well.
STAAR testing still leaving teachers unhappy
Students across the state took the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness tests this week, marking the most recent round of several intense testing regiments the program requires. For many teachers and school officials, it’s simply too much.
3 bills inspired by EPISD scandal sail through Texas Senate
Three reform bills filed in response to the massive cheating scandal at the El Paso Independent School District sailed to passage in the Texas Senate on Wednesday.
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